July 2010

July 13 – Happy Birthday Jack Aker

Jack Aker was traded to New York from Seattle early in the 1969 regular season for fellow-reliever, Freddie Talbot. Yankee manager, Ralph Houk used his new right-hander as the team’s closer the last four months of that season and Aker responded well to that role by winning eight of twelve decisions and earning 11 saves. He then followed that performance up with his best season as a Yankee in 1970, when he recorded 16 saves, won 4 of 6 decisions and posted a sterling 2.06 ERA.  He was 16-10 during his three plus seasons in pinstripes with a total of 31 saves. He became expendable in 1972, after Sparky Lyle joined the team and when New York acquired Johnny Callison from the Cubs for a player to be named later in January of 1972, Aker became that player to be named later. His 32 saves for the lowly Athletics in 1966 led the American League. When he retired after the 1974 season, he had 123 lifetime saves.

Aker shares his July 13th birthday with this Yankee from the far east, this Hall of Fame pitcher and this former Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1969 NYY 8 4 .667 2.06 38 0 23 0 0 11 65.2 51 17 15 4 22 40 1.112
1970 NYY 4 2 .667 2.06 41 0 28 0 0 16 70.0 57 19 16 3 20 36 1.100
1971 NYY 4 4 .500 2.59 41 0 20 0 0 4 55.2 48 20 16 3 26 24 1.329
1972 NYY 0 0 3.00 4 0 4 0 0 0 6.0 5 2 2 0 3 1 1.333
11 Yrs 47 45 .511 3.28 495 0 321 0 0 123 746.0 679 312 272 63 274 404 1.277
OAK (5 yrs) 19 20 .487 3.54 220 0 142 0 0 58 343.1 302 146 135 30 121 210 1.232
NYY (4 yrs) 16 10 .615 2.23 124 0 75 0 0 31 197.1 161 58 49 10 71 101 1.176
CHC (2 yrs) 10 11 .476 3.51 95 0 71 0 0 29 130.2 141 64 51 12 46 61 1.431
NYM (1 yr) 2 1 .667 3.48 24 0 16 0 0 2 41.1 33 18 16 4 14 18 1.137
ATL (1 yr) 0 1 .000 3.78 17 0 8 0 0 0 16.2 17 11 7 3 9 7 1.560
SEP (1 yr) 0 2 .000 7.56 15 0 9 0 0 3 16.2 25 15 14 4 13 7 2.280
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2013.

July 5 – Happy Birthday Goose Gossage

I never agreed with the the Yankee’s decision to sign the Goose as a free agent during the 1977 post season. Sparky Lyle had just won the AL Cy Young Award the season before and the Yankees had won the World Series. They did not need a closer and adding another one to the team was the type of overkill that could only end up disrupting team chemistry in the long run. When I read about Gossage’s signing, I figured Lyle was a goner and I had always been a fan of the “Count.”

I was wrong about Lyle being a goner in 1978. The Yankees did figure out a pretty effective way to keep Lyle in the mix but Gossage emphatically took over the closer’s role and remained the ace of the Yankee pen for a half-dozen seasons, saving 150 games and winning 41 more in the process.

The Yankees finally traded Lyle in 1979, sending him to Texas in a multiplayer deal that put Dave Righetti in Pinstripes. Goose’s shower room brawl with Cliff Johnson helped ruin the Yankee’s 1979 season but in 1980, a big young right-hander named Ron Davis became the Yankee’s set-up man and he and Gossage teamed to deliver what I still consider to be some of the best relief pitching I have ever seen. Unfortunately, George Brett’s three-run shot of Goose in the third game of the AL playoffs that season was not a great moment in Yankee history.

Goose was indeed a monster on the mound and deserves being in Cooperstown but I still think his signing was a matter of greed and not need on the part of Yankee management. Goose was born on this date in 1951, in Colorado Springs, CO.

Goose shares his July 5th birthday with this 1965 winner of the AL Rookie of the Year Award, this former Yankee pitcher and pitching coach and this one-time Yankee starting pitcher from the late thirties. 

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1978 NYY 10 11 .476 2.01 63 0 55 0 0 27 134.1 87 41 30 9 59 122 1.087
1979 NYY 5 3 .625 2.62 36 0 33 0 0 18 58.1 48 18 17 5 19 41 1.149
1980 NYY 6 2 .750 2.27 64 0 58 0 0 33 99.0 74 29 25 5 37 103 1.121
1981 NYY 3 2 .600 0.77 32 0 30 0 0 20 46.2 22 6 4 2 14 48 0.771
1982 NYY 4 5 .444 2.23 56 0 43 0 0 30 93.0 63 23 23 5 28 102 0.978
1983 NYY 13 5 .722 2.27 57 0 47 0 0 22 87.1 82 27 22 5 25 90 1.225
1989 NYY 1 0 1.000 3.77 11 0 6 0 0 1 14.1 14 6 6 0 3 6 1.186
22 Yrs 124 107 .537 3.01 1002 37 681 16 0 310 1809.1 1497 670 605 119 732 1502 1.232
NYY (7 yrs) 42 28 .600 2.14 319 0 272 0 0 151 533.0 390 150 127 31 185 512 1.079
CHW (5 yrs) 29 36 .446 3.80 188 37 80 16 0 30 584.2 534 269 247 34 288 419 1.406
SDP (4 yrs) 25 20 .556 2.99 197 0 157 0 0 83 298.0 255 109 99 19 92 243 1.164
OAK (2 yrs) 4 7 .364 3.78 69 0 25 0 0 1 85.2 81 37 36 11 45 66 1.471
SFG (1 yr) 2 1 .667 2.68 31 0 22 0 0 4 43.2 32 16 13 2 27 24 1.351
PIT (1 yr) 11 9 .550 1.62 72 0 55 0 0 26 133.0 78 27 24 9 49 151 0.955
TEX (1 yr) 4 2 .667 3.57 44 0 16 0 0 1 40.1 33 16 16 4 16 28 1.215
CHC (1 yr) 4 4 .500 4.33 46 0 33 0 0 13 43.2 50 23 21 3 15 30 1.489
SEA (1 yr) 3 0 1.000 4.18 36 0 21 0 0 1 47.1 44 23 22 6 15 29 1.246
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/5/2013.

July 4 – Happy Birthday George Steinbrenner

Like him or not, George Steinbrenner recognized better than anyone that the Yankee brand and New York City were the hottest sports properties on the planet. In 1973, he purchased the team from CBS for a bargain basement price using other people’s money and immediately began making the franchise more valuable by the minute. He pretty much single-handedly restored the aura of the interlocking N-Y logo. George was born on today’s date in 1930 in Cleveland.

The Boss was managing owner of  the Yankees for a record 37 years. His Yankee teams won 11 AL Pennants and 7 World Series. He changed the team’s manager 20 times and hired 11 different GMs. His enthusiastic pursuit of free agents, beginning with Catfish Hunter changed the salary structure of professional baseball forever. He was suspended from the League twice. His entrepreneurial vision was the driving force behind the YES Entertainment Network and when he died in July of 2010, the team he had paid $10 million for was worth $1.2 billion.

George shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher he once described as being “scared stiff” on the mound. This former Yankee utility infielder was also born on Independence Day as was this long-time Yankee radio announcer.

July 3 – Happy Birthday Cesar Tovar, Juan Rivera & Brian Cashman

For Yankee fans not old enough to remember Cesar Tovar, think of a Chone Figgins with more defensive versatility. He spent his first eight big league seasons with Minnesota, where he played every position but catcher, led the league in hits in 1971, averaged .281 in 1,090 games and stole 186 bases. He then spent the final five years of his career playing for five different teams, ending up with the Yankees in 1976, where he played his final thirteen big league games.

Juan Rivera was a power hitting outfield prospect in the Yankee organization who played for the parent club in 2001, ’02 and ’03. New York was hoping he’d replace Paul O’Neil in right field.He got his longest shot during his last season in pinstripes, appearing in 57 games and smacking 7 home runs. But that wasn’t good enough for the Yankee brass, who bundled Rivera with Nick Johnson and Randy Choate in the trade with Montreal that brought Javier Vazquez to the Bronx the first time. Rivera’s now found a home in the Angels’ outfield.

Today is also Brian Cashman’s birthday. The Yankee GM started as an intern in the Yankee front office where he caught the eye of “the Boss” and the rest is history.